The following is an interview with writer Paul Levitz and artist Tim Hamilton regarding the upcoming release of the collected version of Brooklyn Blood. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Levitz and Hamilton regarding the original inspiration behind the supernatural noir series, their shared creative process, what the collected edition will have in store for readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the collected version of Brooklyn Blood! Looking back to the series’ original release through Dark Horse Presents, it seemed to be a perfect combination of your love of detective stories and your historical (and personal) knowledge of Brooklyn. What originally inspired you to tell this story, and what did you hope that readers would take away from the series?
Paul Levitz: I was interested in doing a mystery story set in New York, to take advantage of my knowledge of the place and the fact that it’s a destination that people are interested…and particularly Brooklyn seemed appropriate, given how cool it’s become (somehow). It’s not a story with a deep political message, so mostly I hope people find it entertaining, and find the glimpses into a few people’s lives interesting.
BD: Tim, how did you come to work together with Paul on Brooklyn Blood, and what initially intrigued you about taking on a supernatural noir tale, especially as you were living in Brooklyn while working on the series?
Tim Hamilton: I came to work on this because Christine Norrie suggested me to Paul. (Thanks, Christine!) At least, that’s what Paul said. I am not drawn to everything supernatural like some people. I find every job intriguing for different reasons. This job first appeared in Dark Horse Presents and allowed me to illustrate 8 pages a month while I had other work to do. Also, I was able to create most all of the visual elements. Also, I like working for Dark Horse! Creating is what excites me. I’m a person who gets bored drawing other people’s creations. I drew an Alien mini series for Dark Horse way back in the ’90s. I was young and needed work and did the job as best I could, but soon found I was uninterested in drawing a creature created by someone else. And yes, I have lived in Brooklyn since 1998.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process when the series was first released, issue to issue, through Dark Horse Presents?
PL: We talked about the idea I had for the series, and Tim added some thoughts about where he felt it might go. Then, I structured the plot using a grid system for the development of each character and major plot element, since the format Dark Horse wanted us to produce in was intrinsically challenging for a mystery. Each chapter became a traditional full script, but, occasionally, Tim felt there were opportunities to play with what I’d written, and we discussed what changes might benefit it. In particular, as we approached the end of the series, Tim had some fun ideas that we incorporated, stretching from the original 15 chapter target to 16.
TH: Yes, what Paul said! He did work in full script, but for me to design the page or tell the story, I, at times, ignored his panel layout. Mostly in small ways that were easy to work around. I saw opportunities to carry some elements from one chapter to the next and added a few details I’m blanking on now! That was two years ago!
BD: Tim, did you have a specific art style in mind when you first read the concept for the series, or do you feel that your design evolved over time after working through the script with Paul?
TH: I get bored. I illustrate gag cartoons, children’s books, and love life drawing! Thus, my art is always changing depending on what I work on.
For this story I did look at artists like Kathe Kollwitz, some block prints, and comic artist José Muñoz. I look at a variety so as not to “imitate” any one artist too much. I knew from the start there would be a lot of ink on the page! I attempted to keep the art consistent, but it evolved a bit. It always happens!
BD: The collected trade paperback of Brooklyn Blood will feature your initial story notes and character designs for the project. What was your experience in revisiting the material for the upcoming release, and what do you feel that readers will most enjoy about the added content?
PL: Mercifully, there wasn’t much revision needed, which in a mystery story like this is a real sigh of relief (whew…the clues/elements actually lined up much as planned). For my part, the added material was basically a historical note, kind of a guide to where to learn more about the incorporated historic elements. From Tim’s side, the included sketches and the like are always good for people to see something about artistic process, which is an amazing mystery to those of us who can’t draw no matter how many artists we hang around with.
TH: I always enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes when I was young! Granted, there was no Internet back then. How comics got made was a complete mystery to me! I remember that Batman Hulk company crossover that Garcia Lopez drew when I was young. It had all of the rejected cover sketches that Garcia drew in the back. I remember wondering how it was possible he drew cover ideas that were rejected. I hope some young person reading the book gets to see how my art was perfect from the start! Did Paul edit that Batman Hulk book? I forget.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
TH: I self publish my own anthology called Rabbit Who Fights. It’s part sci-fi and part humorous cartoons. You can read more about it here. I’ve also written and illustrated children’s books and am pitching a new one which means I’m waiting to hear if anyone will buy it while I work on the next pitch!
PL: Stay tuned. It’s too early to say, but definitely stay tuned.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Brooklyn Blood and your other work?
PL: I’m trying to use my website, paullevitz.com, more energetically and will keep posting about new projects there and on my Facebook page.
TH: Find me at my website.
Buy my book, Rabbit Who Fights, at Gumroad.
Follow me on Twitter, @TmoneyHamilton.
Give me money on Patreon.
More about how I drew Brooklyn Blood from start to finish is available here.